Using Solid Fuel this winter?
Whilst it is important to keep warm this winter, residents of Cotswold District are asked to be mindful of the environment, the effect on themselves and neighbours before using solid fuel (wood, coal, pellets etc.)
How can I reduce harmful emissions
To protect the environment and reduce the amount of pollutants produced from burning solid fuel, make sure you maintain your appliance adequately and ensure fuel is clean and dry.
Avoid using contaminated fuel, such as painted or preserved wood; also do not use wet fuel, such as unseasoned wood, as these fuels will burn at a lower temperature and will result in higher levels of pollutants, including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and particles.
Buying solid fuel
If you are using coal look for the Approved Coal Merchants Scheme logo or seek the advice of the Solid Fuel Association. Although there is no approved merchant scheme for wood fuels, the Biomass Energy Centre provides links to suppliers of wood fuels.
If you are installing a wood burning appliance ask your install to recommend suppliers of suitable fuels. European CEN standards for biomass fuels are currently under development and, when finalised, will enable to you to ensure you are using the correct high quality fuel for your appliance.
Maintaining solid fuel appliances
The maintenance of solid fuel appliances is very important to ensure safe and efficient operation.
Ensure that your chimney is swept from top to bottom at least once a year. If you are responsible for this work then you may find that a member of the National Association of Chimney Sweeps (NACS) will provide a professional service.
Air is vital; make sure you have enough ventilation to keep your fire burning properly.
Flueways at the back of any boiler should be cleaned at least once a month.
Throat plates at the top of any room heater should be removed and cleaned regularly.
Check and empty the ashcan regularly and at least once every day. Do not let the ashcan overflow.
You should take immediate action if you smell or suspect fumes – open windows and doors immediately and let the fire go out. Do not relight the fire until you have had your chimney and appliance flueways checked by a qualified engineer. The HETAS website provides a list of registered engineers who specialise in dealing with solid fuel appliances.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless, odourless, poisonous gas produced by the incomplete combustion of carbon-based fuels. More than 50 people are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning each year in England and Wales. Incorrectly installed, poorly maintained or poorly ventilated cooking and heating devices are often the main causes of death or injury. Carbon monoxide poisoning can kill quickly without warning; it can also resemble food poisoning, viral infections, flu or simple tiredness, e.g. headaches, fatigue, nausea and difficulty in thinking clearly. If you suffer from these symptoms, and they could be caused by carbon monoxide exposure, stop using ALL your cooking and heating appliances and seek urgent medical attention. Call a suitably qualified engineer to check your appliances.
To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:
Have all cooking and heating appliances installed and serviced regularly by trained, reputable, registered engineers e.g. The Gas Register, formerly CORGI, (for gas appliances), OFTEC (for oil appliances) – DO NOT attempt to install or service the appliance yourself!
DO NOT use poorly maintained appliances and make sure chimneys and flues are clean and not blocked.
Make sure that all rooms are well ventilated when an appliance is being used.
Fit a carbon monoxide alarm that meets European Standard EN 50291 and carries a British or European mark, such as a kite mark. You can be particularly at risk from CO poisoning when you are asleep, because you may not be aware of early symptoms until it is too late. Having an audible CO alarm could wake you and save your life.
Carbon monoxide poisoning often occurs when someone who is unfamiliar with solid fuel appliances becomes responsible for the home, for example when an elderly person starts to rely on the services of a carer. In these situations it is vital to tell the newly responsible person about the maintenance procedures for your solid fuel appliance.